It’s been a long three years for both the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers. Both teams have missed the playoffs in each season since 2013, and they are a long way from competing for a championship.
New York and L.A. are hoping to take steps towards becoming a contender in free agency. As of July 1, when teams began officially negotiating with free agents, the two teams have plenty of money to spend.
The Knicks have just over $55 million committed to salaries for the 2016-17 season. The Lakers have a payroll of just over $23 million. With the salary cap rising to $94 million, multiple free agents are headed to both New York and Los Angeles.
The top prize of the 2016 free agency class is Kevin Durant, and the Knicks and Lakers are no different than any other NBA team. They want to sign the four-time scoring champ, though it doesn’t appear to be a realistic possibility for either franchise. The Knicks have a better chance to land him than the Lakers, but neither team has been able to secure a meeting with Durant, who is likely to re-sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The teams will have to settle for lesser free agents, though it appears that the Knicks will be landing the bigger names. After trading for Derrick Rose, New York is going after the point guard’s former teammate. They are reportedly getting close to signing Joakim Noah, who could get a four-year contract worth $72 million, via ESPN’s Chris Broussard.
When Durant was named the 2014 NBA MVP, Noah finished fourth in the voting, averaging 12.6 points, 11.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game. But the center has since battled injuries, and his performance has suffered. After missing 15 games in the 2014-2015 season, Noah played just 29 games last year, averaging career lows with 4.3 points on 38.3 percent shooting.
In addition to Noah, the Knicks are reportedly pursuing Courtney Lee, Eric Gordon and Evan Turner. New York still doesn’t have a starting shooting guard, and Lee or Gordon could fill that role.
Lee is the most attainable, having battled injuries the last few years and averaging 9.6 points per game for his career. Gordon’s career has been defined by the injuries that have kept him from becoming a perennial All-Star, but his ability to score makes him a highly sought-after commodity. Gordon averaged 15.2 points in 45 games last year. Turner averaged 10.5 points per game with the Boston Celtics.
Knicks prefer Evan Turner & Courtney Lee over Eric Gordon (thankfully). But it comes down to money. Turner is type of big guard Phil likes.
— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) July 1, 2016
The Lakers likely made their biggest addition of the offseason in the NBA Draft when they selected Duke’s Brandon Ingram at No.2 overall. L.A. has reportedly given Timofey Mozgov a four-year deal worth $64 million, and they’ve re-signed Jordan Clarkson.
Most of the contracts being signed are inflated because of the rising cap, but Mozgov’s deal is somewhat curious. He could barely find playing time for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, and he’s never even started 50 games in a season. Al Jefferson, who scored 12.0 points per game—nearly double Mozgov’s average—agreed to a three-year deal with the Indiana Pacers that is worth less than half of what the Lakers’ new center received.
L.A. is reportedly interested in Moe Harkless, as well.